It’s not surprising to hear the allegations of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo diverting Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds and leaving the agency P4 billion in debt. But how many people, upon hearing of such controversy, ever think to abolish the PCSO, as opposed to merely cleaning house to make way for the next thief?
If the PCSO is designed to provide charity, it’s not doing a very good job at it. It holds a monopoly on both charity and gaming, but for most, this is a more suitable arrangement compared to any private ‘profit-oriented’ organizations. In making such a presumption, it is ignored that public officials could not help but act for some kind of ‘profit’ as well. The trouble is that coercive institutions tend to be wasteful or anti-productive.
COERCION IN THE LOTTO
Coercive? It’s not like I’m forced to buy a lotto ticket, right? But that’s not where the coercion lies; it’s in the shifting of resources away from private enterprise and the weakening of potentially more efficient charity and gaming organizations. Through such a monopoly and anti-competitive campaigns, it has been ingrained in people’s minds that games such as jueteng are wrong in themselves and not simply due to bureaucratic say-so.
PROFIT? EFFICIENCY? BUT THIS IS CHARITY!
But why am I talking about efficiency here? Charity is not about profit or efficiency and all those things related to private enterprise, right? Actually, charity, being one type of human action, is concerned with making the most out of one’s resources, as with any business endeavor. The difference might be the particular object to be attained (money, approval, satiation of guilt, sense of fulfillment in helping others, etc.), but the principle behind human action remains ― the satisfaction of wants.
NOTHING CHARITABLE ABOUT GOVERNMENT CHARITY
Bureaucratized charity, whether this involves funding through taxes or ticket proceeds, defeats the purpose. In the first place, there’s nothing charitable about being threatened with violence before parting with one's property, or being threatened with violence from starting one’s ‘racket.’
Second, it has to be understood that even acts of charity entail the manifestation of consumer preferences, that is, the desires of the benefactors, whose allocating of resources can only be directed in a decentralized manner, wherein the utility of intended charity goods are weighed against the happiness that giving provides; ‘causes’ deemed stupid such as aid for workers in the elephant-cleaning industry are eliminated as well.
A privatized arrangement more efficiently aids those whom individuals would want to help whether or not the PCSO exists. Preferably, it shouldn’t exist, for the sake of both givers and recipients.